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Full text of "History And Human Relation"

THE    DANGERS    OF    HISTORY

foreigner too, but none of us seem able to jump out of
our own skins and to see our own position with a
ce#ain rektivity. And for the most part there is much
too little disposition even to attempt the task. Some-
times historical students take tremendous trouble wi*.
the details of their researches, but when they come to
the important point where they build up the larger
framework of their story or draw their final conclusions,
or pretend to extract from the narrative its teaching
value, they are liable to become very casual and to be
totally unaware of the processes that are taking place in
their minds. They do not realise that very often they
are smuggling into history the things they eventually
imagine themsdves to be extracting from it—the penny
that they draw out of the slot-machine is the very penny
that they first put in. Even after the historian has
collected data and sifted his materials with industry and
discrimination, a very minute addition of wishful liiink-
ing may deflect the whole organisation of the results.
A desire for self-justification may set the historian at a
slightly wrong angle; and the extension of the Hnes of
the picture may mean that this apparently small de-
flection will ultimately have the effect of carrying him
far away from the central course. Indeed, history can
be very dangerous unless it is accompanied by severe
measures of self-discipline and self-purification—unless
we realise that there is something that we must do with
our personalities. Let us note, then, that historians have
developed a remarkable scientific apparatus for the
discovery, handling and sifting of historical evidence.
They have not always remembered that this leaves vast

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